Who Knews?

Who did the following series of stories? Huffington Post or LATimes? Or maybe the BBC or CBC? Could it be the Guardian or maybe the TheTelegraph? No – these are the headline stories from Aljazeera  websiteon Saturday May 26, 2011. . Yes there is a preponderance of news stories from the MidEast but that is to be expected a)that is the home  region for Aljazeer and b)because the Mideast is the news – as striving for better government and democracy arises  from Morocco on the edge of West Africa to Syria and Iran in the  East. To say these are  momentous times in the MidEast  is like saying 177o’s in the North American colonies of Britain were newsworthy.
But what really makes Aljazeera as a  news source of interest are 3 things. First, Aljazeera is indeed Arab own and operated news source headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Second,  the nature and standard of its coverage is fairly high – not just matching if not exceeding Western journalistic standards [not hard to do these days as Fox News regularly airs deliberate distortions and fabrications while News media in the West wither in the face of infotainment stealing eyeballs and advertising dollars]. Third, with a pan-Arab voice that often is not available in any individual country.This shows in the coverage that Aljazeera has given of unrest in every quarter of the Arab World. Finally, this is Aljazeera’s competitive advantage – it is not only ready, willing, but also able to cover the democracy movements in details just not available to the Western media for whatever cutback reasons they offer.

So how is Aljazeera doing? Well the breadth of its coverage of non-Arab news is one positive sign. For example, the Japanese earthquake has been covered with dozens of stories and telling video including this chilling one about the sense of inevitability as survivor memory dies away along Japan’s coast line. Likewise coverage of art’s role in Tunisia’s uprising provides insights not found anywhere else on what is happening on the ground in the country.It is story like these which provide unique information and perspectives that as ye Editor returning to Aljazeera.

But most interesting is the lineup of writers doing stories for Aljazeera. The sidebar shows a line up of the opinion writers in the latest weekend edition of Aljazeera. Let examine who is writing for Aljazeera.:
Leila Hudson – U.of Arizona professor of Anthropology and NearEastern Studies
Johann Chacko – MA, graduate student at U of Arizona
Marwan Bishara – senior politicaol analyst for Aljazeerra English
Jorge G Castenada – writer for Foreign Affairs, and Latin American political scholar
Esther Dyson – journalist, venture capitalist, and philanthropist
Desmond Tutu – South African cleric and activist
Vaclav Havel – poet, playwright, and 1st President of Czech Republic
Richard von Weizacker – former Mayor of West Berlin and President of Germany
Dan Steinbock -fellow  at several think tanks including Shanghai Institute
Lamis Andoni – head of International Relation at Aljazeera
Danny Schechter – Emmy winning TV and film producer
Phyllis Bennis – felllow at Institute for Policy Studies and other think tanks
Richard Falk – professor emertius of International Law at Princeton University
This is a very distinguished panel of commentators that write for the Aljazeera.

Read Richard Falk’s article on Qaddafi and moral interventionism or Dan Steinbock’s careful analysis Exaggerated Hopes for Mideast Prosperity. Both of these pieces present careful thinking of the implications of fast developing issues in the Middle East. But there is also a healthy range of opinions. And the topics stretch well beyond the Middle East with Esther Dyson’s revealing story on how  Group On is changing the dynamics of medium to small scale reatiling with new mobile-based coupons that are location aware. Or there is Jorge Castenada’s very enlightening coverage of what is happening in South America such that many countries there have escaped the worst of the 2007-2009 financial meltdown .

In summary, Aljazeera is giving readers not only the latest of what happening in the Middle East democratic awakening but also solid analysis of the underlying events and directions. These insights coupled  broad coverage of  global news events puts Aljazeera news coverage in the upper tier of news media. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, Aljazeera is providing news and insights on the Middle East  that indeed are very real and very valuable.

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